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Bringing Text to Life With Audio and Images

Summary (TL;DR)

Images, audio, and video are rapidly replacing text as human beings’ preferred form of communication.  While the abilities to read, write, calculate and solve problems will always be essential skills, the ability to combine images, text, and audio to communicate is becoming an essential literacy.  This post explores tools to combine images, text, and sound to engage an audience and communicate ideas.

The Resources

Why Video?


Steve Jobs speaking at Portland High School in 2002
Steve Jobs speaking at Portland High School in 2002. Portland, Maine.


“When we grew up, the medium of our generation was what? What was the medium of our generation? (Pause) It was the book – that’s exactly right. And we all knew how to read, thank God.  But we knew something just as important.  Not only could we consume the medium of our generation, but we could author it.  We could write.  We could put back into the culture at many different levels, whether it was a letter to a friend or a novel. We could put back in the medium of our generation.  We were consumers, and we were authors.



What is the medium of our kids’ generation today? It’s video.  Like it or not, it’s video.  Television, movies…and they are fantastic consumers.  But how many kids know how to author in the medium of their generation?  Almost none.  And that’s a scary thought, isn’t it?  I find it pretty scary. And the most incredible thing that has happened over the last five years is these tools are now letting these kids author in the medium of video, and it’s pretty doggone simple to do.”

–Steve Jobs, Portland High School, Portland, Maine
June 2002


I’m forty-two at the time that I’m writing this, but sometimes, I feel much older.

It’s a change thing.   You see, during my short lifetime, the world has changed so remarkably that the world of my childhood is almost unrecognizable to my son and my/our students.

While “change isn’t new and that it is easy to exaggerate its meaning,” the technology surrounding us is fundamentally changing our experience of the world and what it means to be literate. Basic reading, writing, listening, speaking and numeracy skills are still essential and are not in danger of being displaced, but they are no longer enough.

Our students inhabit not just one world, but many, and in most of these worlds, audio and visual communication is privileged over written communication.   If you do not believe it, take a minute to review the statistics relating to teen social media usage.

Statistic: Reach of leading social media and networking sites used by teenagers and young adults in the United States as of February 2017 | Statista

Reviewing these figures, it should stand out that images and video dominate the top three platforms (Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram) and that there is a significant drop off to the top-ranked text-dominated platform (Twitter).   If that’s not enough data, Pew Research reports that  “The video-sharing site YouTube – which contains many social elements, even if it is not a traditional social media platform – is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds.

The fact of the matter is that if it doesn’t have sound and/or pictures, kids aren’t interested.

Sorry Teach but in the immortal words of the the Buggles,

In my mind and in my car

We can’t rewind we’ve gone too far

Pictures came and broke your heart

What Can We Do?

Given that audio, images, and video are the preferred form of communication among young people (and our society), we have the ability (and some would say responsibility) as educators to endorse their use as communication tools in our classrooms.  Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools available for teachers and students to use audio, images, and video as learning and communication tools.

Book Creator – From Plain Text to eBook

In terms of simplicity and ease of use, Book Creator is the gold standard for eBook creation apps.  With a quick five-to-ten-minute introduction to the app, students can begin to demonstrate their knowledge of almost any subject using not only text but also images and audio in an interactive eBook.  Even better, the eBooks that they create can be shared easily both within and outside of the classroom to provide students with opportunities for sharing their work with an authentic audience.

While Book Creator is an excellent fit for almost any subject or classroom, it can be especially powerful for classes including English-language learners.  In creating eBooks, these students can take advantage of sharing their knowledge through images in addition to language, and moreover, students can practice their English language fluency through recording themselves reading the text of the books that they create.  Published Book Creator books also have a built-in “Read to Me” option, and while the voices reading the text are not ideal, the ability to use text highlighting and slow speech while having a text read to you could be beneficial in many situations.

Book Creator offers a free version which provides teachers the ability to create a library of up to 40 eBooks and also has premium options for teachers who are interested in entirely jumping on the eBook train.  My suggestion would be to check out the books below, sign up for a free account at, and have your students create and share a few books to see if Book Creator is a good fit for your classroom.



iMovie – From Plain Text to Video

When it comes to options for bringing a text to life, it is difficult to top videos created with Apple’s iMovie.  While iMovie has the ability to create nearly professional quality videos, it also has a very intuitive user interface that new users can pick up quickly.  Many people are aware that iMovie and programs like it can be used to edit recorded video, but fewer people are aware that it is possible to create a video in iMovie exclusively through the use of still images or the combination of still photos and audio.

Through the combination of still images and audio, I was able to create a visual representation of “Learning to Read…an excerpt from Malcolm X” video below.  For those who are interested in going beyond still images and audio, iMovie has built-in tools to make more advanced features including green screen videos easily accessible to even novice users.

For more information on how to use iMovie and the use of green screens, please check out my iMovie Quick Links page here.



This site published for non-commercial educational purposes. All images are used under Fair Use for Educational Purposes provisions of Copyright law.

Pew Research Center. “Social Media Use in 2018” Online. Accessed 22 May 2018. URL:

Statista. “Reach of leading social media and networking sites used by teenagers and young adults in the United States as of February 2017” Online. Accessed 22 May 2018. URL:

Genius. “‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ Lyrics” Online. Accessed 22 May 2018. URL: